MMOs Need More Bastards

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FelixG:

Mike Kayatta:
MMOs Need More Bastards

Your MMO could use a few more jerks in it.

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Kudos on the article. This is the first one that has ever brought a tear to my eye remembering all the good times I had back in those days, articles dont normally do that to me!

Bravo!

(Sorry double post)

Haha, thanks. I wonder if any of the people who have said something similar actually knew each other back then? o_O There were only like 300,000 of us after all...it could happen.

All I have to say is that if this article spoke to anyone the same way it spoke to me, that we need more untamed wilderness style MMOs, I heartily recommend Haven and Hearth.

It is an almost unknown free-to-play isometric MMO that has lackluster graphics, no tutorial beyond the player made wiki, permanent character death, confusing combat, and is absolutely beautiful in every way. It has a kind of pioneer/wilderness setting, with most of the activities being things like hunting, carpentry, fishing, pottery, mining, etc.

Its fun, it has a very tight and fun visual style despite graphical limitations, and it has the same player-created community and experience described here with Ultima Online in its glory days. There are no NPCs in the world, just you and the other players. (And lots of bears). You can claim your own land, build your own house, farm your territory. You can sneak around on other people's property and steal from their cupboards. At which point they can track you down and execute you if you aren't careful. Then pick up your skeleton and display it outside their iron town gates. It's really, really exciting and fun.

There are even villages/clans you can join, if you want some sense of security. But watch out, there are also violent clans out there. Clans with battering rams...

On top of that, the Haven and Hearth community, though small, is very diverse. People from all over the world play the game and I've made many friends from several different countries. I know that this isn't a big deal to everyone, but I think its really cool to meet people from some place other than just the USA.

In the dull and childproof environments of the modern MMO market, Haven and Hearth shines.

All it really needs is a new combat system. ...Which is what it REALLY needs.

But seriously. Free will beyond your wildest dreams. Go try it out and have fun! :D

See also Salem, which has been mentioned slightly more often than Haven and Hearth. Salem is the second the game the Haven and Hearth team is working on, will be extremely similar (and on a higher budget!), and hopefully improved. Coming out who knows when.

keideki:
If you want a world like that play Eve online. Although I would be interested in a fantasy MMO with the same kind of system.

I would recommend keeping an eye on "World of Darkness" then, as it's CCP first venture towards Fantasy. An MMO based (for now) on the White Wolf "Vampire" Pen and Paper RPGs, with the option to add the rest of the White Wolf supplements (Hunter, Mage, etc.)
A very similar system to EVE with meta-game politics, territory control and all that. As well as EVE's real-time skill training system, so no classes as such and just skills to train.
Not sure on the economic side of things, as CCP hasn't been that forthcoming with details about the game at this time. But it is coming, not to mention that it'll look gorgeous using the Incarna Engine that powers EVE's Walking in Stations component.

TheZooblord:
[Above]

Thank you so much i'm checking that out the second this roleplay's done in Final Fantasy XIV o.o

Basically the same thing happened to WoW when Wrath of the Lich King was introduced. Though that mostly had effect on the PvE side of things.

Tried playing lvl 85 WoW first time in ages - first dungeon that came up the tank runs in ninja pulls a bunch of mobs then quits. 20mins later we get replacements and I get kicked for having too low DPS...even though I have all the requirements to go into the dungeon... /facepalm

Theres enough of them trust me

Fensfield:

TheZooblord:
[Above]

Thank you so much i'm checking that out the second this roleplay's done in Final Fantasy XIV o.o

Hope it works out! I love it, but there is probably a reason it only boasts about a few thousand (single digits) players. Hard to get into and crappy combat mostly. But I think the free will and being able to explore the environment that players have created is worth it :).

Well, due to some weird thing where I was trying to remember a game for a topic here, I learned about Uncharted Waters Online. It seemed to have quite a bit of free will and all of that, though I won't know. Looking for some player reviews I came across a fairly recent one that described how it was, and what it became (grindfest pay to win)

As for Haven and Hearth, I might have to check that out.

Brilliant article. Nice to see someone appreciating the value of assholes. :)

RandV80:
Yeah I know I'm in the minority but while I love their RTS's I've never liked Blizzard RPG's. The genre has evolved since but from a period around 2000-2005 the much deeper and slower paced CRPG's like Fallout or Balders Gate were phased out in favour of quick mindless hack & slash Diablo clones. Blizzard is a weird company when it comes to RPG's, they don't really craft them the same way a Bioware or Bethesda does, but rather go an almost Farmville-like route by making it them widely accessible with an intentionally systematic design to keep people grinding away for countless hours.

Rather well put. I'm of the same mind as yours. I loved StarCraft, but could never get my head around the popularity of WoW and Diablo.

It's a balance. The stuff that happens on EVE is exciting but with it being very hard to put reliable consequences in the way it can be really hard to balance good and evil. There aren't social or tangible benefits to playing straight and if you do your only going to lose out to those who play evil. Play evil to win is just a more subtle form of lack of choice. The market needs more shades, more in the middle games so that people can find the area that they're happy in

I'm inclined to agree, to an extent... the fact is, having too many bastards in a given game makes it an exercise in frustration, especially if the GUI is prone to being exploited.

Moderation in all things, and all that.

As for Ultima Online, I played a Trinsic fisherman.

That's it. Just a fisherman. Not "and something else". I would sit there on the docks and lazily fish all day, most often selling my catch to the local fisher's guild but also from time to time standing around and shouting "Fish for sale!".

From time to time, a player would walk up and buy something, too. "Dost thou want a fish?" Apparently I acted the part well enough that some folks would type out the shorthand for interacting with an NPC vendor in response.

It wasn't that I had a huge mania on for catching pixellated pisceans, either --- it was mostly because UO was something I could run in a separate window, so I could be surfing the Internet.

And fishing. Hanging out on MUDs. And fishing. Sending an email. And fishing. And so on.

I've always loved the Ultima series, so much so that I didn't feel a huge desire to become one of ten thousand would-be Avatars. Even just being part of the background of that universe was a pleasure in itself.

This is the reason I haven't been playing mmos. all the ones I've seen look like wow clones. but I've seen alot of people mention EVE. might be good to check it out.

krellen:
There are plenty of places to get your PvP fix around, if you're looking for player conflict. However, I believe you are fundamentally wrong when you say what players want is completely unregulated free-will and open conflict. If they did, games that offer that - like EVE - would dominate the market. They don't; I think consumers have voted.

I think it's a niche market. And I believe that's what the article is talking about, WoW is fine and all, but we need some stuff like this.

Anyway, if you combined this and a combat system that didn't suck, I might finally get into MMOS. It's not an MMO, but this was my favorite part of the RDR online, you'd see someone riding towards you at top speed, and you had to decide whether to just shoot them or wait and see if they what their intentions were.

Mike Kayatta:

Thanks! Originally, I really wanted to mention the Galaxies thing (though I didn't have room for it) because it's such a great example of how developers listen to all the wrong people when making changes. I think the point was proven the second that game lost most of its player base after its "reworking." The whining vocal minority is such a pain in the ass. I think devs should start prioritizing complaints by level and/or time with game. Not ignoring the newbies, mind you, just listening more to the vets who have been spending subscription money for months and months...you know, the actual reason the game became a success to begin with.

First off, I think you are mistaken with what faction represents the minority and what faction represents the majority. From what I understand, UO was experiencing a downward subscription spiral that continued up until the released Trammel.

Secondly, your secondary idea is sorta backwards from a business perspective. The vets are a much more secure player base given how much they've invested in the game. The newbies that are getting nowhere in the game are the most likely to leave. Easing their entry into the game is the most important thing the developers can do to foster a larger playerbase. The concept of "love it or leave it" is going to get most of the new players opting for the latter.

The real trouble is, when you make the jerks completely free to do whatever they want whenever they want, you've *destroyed* the freedom of the nice people. So it isn't "people should be free to be jerks and to be nice", but the case is: "when the jerks are free, the nice people AREN'T free."

Ideally, what you'd want to do would be to make functional griefer-avoidance that the player had to actively engage in. Want to search the woods for herbs? Learn the stealth skill. Buy spells that make other players appear highlighted on the mini-map. Avoid the roads. Use the buddy system. The trouble is that instead of putting in this sort of thing, that the player could actively use (and occasionally fail to use), the functionality just got locked out.

I'd like to design an MMO like this some day--a game in which there are *absolutely no NPC's*. However, there would be a small contingent of *paid players* whose job would be to generate conflict. They'd do things like run in-game organizations, hand out quests, start wars with each other. Their purpose would really be to act as the spur and encouragement for other people to do the same.

I partially agree with the article, not with the title, but I think that MMO's need more player interaction, being able to rob or set up bandit camps is a great RP feature (but annoying/cruel as anything), The most player interaction I've heard of is in TOR with the fact that it has story and choices, which is great.

My game was neither UO nor EQ - it was Asheron's Call. It had a hardcore, lawless PvP server. The tales of those who lived on it were truly epic. But - and this is important - the number of players on the PvP server was always very small compared to the populations on any of the eight PvE servers (the balance has changed somewhat in recent years, since the PvP hardcore have stuck with the game while more casual players left). People voted with their wallets. They didn't want to live in a world full of bastards.

I think others have said this well enough that I don't need to belabor it further. I'll just add this; many like to say they want more "freedom" in their MMG, but fewer stick it out when other players with freedom hand them the crap end of the stick.

I'd like to add that UO faced an unenviable choice that I don't believe the article addresses. UO appealed to two very different types of gamer. Under normal circumstances, the two would have never come in contact with one another, but UO was literally the only game in town.

On one hand there were the "bastards" and simulationists who enjoyed the PvP and criminal games. On the other hand were the casuals, socializers, and MUDders who wanted to play The Sims Online before The Sims was a twinkle in Will Wright's eye. They wanted to roleplay, craft, and decorate their houses. They treated the game as a digital Renaissance Faire. Few had much interest in serious fighting, or in having to deal with pickpockets, murderers, and burglars.

In other words, they were sheep. The "bastard" wolves slaughtered them. The sheep started to quit the game, and Origin was left with a fairly clear-cut choice - bet on the wolves and leave things as they were, or bet on the sheep and build a fence to keep the wolves out.

They bet that the sheep would be more reliable and less troublesome customers. Purely from a revenue/numbers perspective, I find it difficult to dispute that judgment. The wolves were fenced off. They could still prey on each other if they wished.

Though the hardcore continue to bemoan Trammel, I submit that it kept UO relevant and profitable for many more years than it would have if Renaissance had never been released.

Are there any relatively new free mmo's out that are like this?

ldwater:
Play EVE.

Nuff said really - plenty of bastards in that still!

That was exactly I was thinking, all the time i was reading this, and i have only played the free trial of EvE, but from what i read and saw about it this is pretty much your game there. Free to be a arse hole or a good doer.

It's a sad thing that over the last 10 years persistent worlds turned into static worlds.

CCP are the only MMO developer who gets it.

JMeganSnow:

I'd like to design an MMO like this some day--a game in which there are *absolutely no NPC's*. However, there would be a small contingent of *paid players* whose job would be to generate conflict. They'd do things like run in-game organizations, hand out quests, start wars with each other. Their purpose would really be to act as the spur and encouragement for other people to do the same.

EVE in Nullsec is exactly like you described, everything is player run, the leaders start wars, give out jobs to lower members and independents, the ships and products are mostly manufactured and sold by players and there are often price wars and corporate espionage ect.

Players will do exactly like you said even if they arent payed, they just need the tools to do it!

I can only imagine how much more fun a number of games would be if they incorporated the freedom of EVE or UO into it.

Mike Kayatta:
It's a true shame that games such as the original Ultima Online fail to exist in today's comparatively stagnant market

EVE Online.
You have failed.
End of discussion.

kodra:

Mike Kayatta:

Thanks! Originally, I really wanted to mention the Galaxies thing (though I didn't have room for it) because it's such a great example of how developers listen to all the wrong people when making changes. I think the point was proven the second that game lost most of its player base after its "reworking." The whining vocal minority is such a pain in the ass. I think devs should start prioritizing complaints by level and/or time with game. Not ignoring the newbies, mind you, just listening more to the vets who have been spending subscription money for months and months...you know, the actual reason the game became a success to begin with.

First off, I think you are mistaken with what faction represents the minority and what faction represents the majority. From what I understand, UO was experiencing a downward subscription spiral that continued up until the released Trammel.

Secondly, your secondary idea is sorta backwards from a business perspective. The vets are a much more secure player base given how much they've invested in the game. The newbies that are getting nowhere in the game are the most likely to leave. Easing their entry into the game is the most important thing the developers can do to foster a larger playerbase. The concept of "love it or leave it" is going to get most of the new players opting for the latter.

Look man, every game is "love it or leave it." When a dev makes something like Call of Duty, some players complain, some don't, but in the end it is what it is. MMOs have the weird quality of being malleable once already released. Because of that, they change too often. Do your design and philosophy on the front end, not after the whiner brigade beats down your door. Just my opinion anyway...

So what makes the MMos different from one and other is the actual player in it?
Its us that play it, yes devs make the rules, but in the end it is up to us, to make choices.

I do agree that I miss the sense of conflict that could be inflicted onto me. However I kind of wish that it didn't have the be the player base threatening itself for excitement, but instead the AI of the world looking to mess the player's day up. This is one of the major reasons I am looking forward to Guild Wars 2. One of the game's major draws is that most settlements in the game can be attacked by whatever form of bandits or monsters infesting the area and unless the player base intervenes, the said settlements will fall and then players will need to work on reclaiming it. This isn't as good as it could be of course, but it's still a step in a direction of working back to MMO's more representing a human world, rather than one while not missing its teeth and claws, is muzzled and filed down.

eh not sure if i'd like that i mean.. i allready get annoyed how much griefing and general dickery goes in in a regulated enviroment.. and then in a less regulated one.... yuck..
but the thieving bit would be interesting

Not a bad read.

If you can't play a bastard, then what's the point, eh?

Althus:
So what makes the MMos different from one and other is the actual player in it?
Its us that play it, yes devs make the rules, but in the end it is up to us, to make choices.

Only if the devs offer us interesting choices to make, and the consequences of interesting choices often impact other players, who then whine to the devs, who then take away everybodies choices.

Sounds like i would have preferred that game to anything else. I may have started on the ass end of Vanilla WoW but damn i would have preferred original Ultima.
What the fucking hell is this. I mean it someone tell me what that is.
image

I don't understand the realism argument here. The "being a jerk" things people want to be able to do in games, but are prevented from doing, are generally offenses that would result in incarceration or some form of corporal punishment once proven guilty, depending on the time period and culture from which you harvest the laws.

The fundamental difference between even the most "free" and therefore "grief-tastic" MMO and the real world is the absence of REAL consequences and the ability to log-off and get a good night's sleep just to wake up and grief again.

The behaviors this article pines for exist in the real world, but only among the sickest, evilest, most twisted bastards that are hated and feared by 100% of the population. And for good reason.

A lot of people play MMO's to try a different reality, and in that world there are no real consequences and there's annonymity and safety so they act as pricks. So instead of balancing out to the real-world norm of 100-1 good/bad balance, you can end up with a pool full of nothing but pricks. And nobody likes a sausage party. Nobody.

I don't blame MMO's from implementing rules - it's supposed to be fun for players after all, and it sucks if there's no fun to be had.

Guy Jackson:

EVE Online.
You have failed.
End of discussion.

Except EVE Online is about spaceships.

Sure it's great, and that's great too!

But.. why should everyone wants a dynamic online world have to play one about spaceships? Can't their be a fantasy one, too?

Not to mention there'll be a modern-ish one and all in World of Darkness.. okay not really modern, but I don't think it's exactly the medieval-esque of your average Everquest derivative.

Just because one game does it doesn't mean no others ought - it's true there are no such MMO's with the quality of a high-ish range studio behind them that are set in a fantasy world. And that is a huge shame, even if it is kind of difficult to pull off with current technology and in the current market.

Some day though, probably..

.. Also as others have said the potential for griefing really does need a counterbalance. I suppose until someone works out a way to get permadeath comfortably into a mainstream MMO, however, it'll be hard to provide a workable scale of consequences. Meh, rambling now.. but still, I think something like that would solve a lot of issues witht he genre in general - but I can't imagine how it'd be done comfortably.

Stormwaltz:
My game was neither UO nor EQ - it was Asheron's Call. It had a hardcore, lawless PvP server. The tales of those who lived on it were truly epic. But - and this is important - the number of players on the PvP server was always very small compared to the populations on any of the eight PvE servers (the balance has changed somewhat in recent years, since the PvP hardcore have stuck with the game while more casual players left). People voted with their wallets. They didn't want to live in a world full of bastards.

I think others have said this well enough that I don't need to belabor it further. I'll just add this; many like to say they want more "freedom" in their MMG, but fewer stick it out when other players with freedom hand them the crap end of the stick.

I'd like to add that UO faced an unenviable choice that I don't believe the article addresses. UO appealed to two very different types of gamer. Under normal circumstances, the two would have never come in contact with one another, but UO was literally the only game in town.

On one hand there were the "bastards" and simulationists who enjoyed the PvP and criminal games. On the other hand were the casuals, socializers, and MUDders who wanted to play The Sims Online before The Sims was a twinkle in Will Wright's eye. They wanted to roleplay, craft, and decorate their houses. They treated the game as a digital Renaissance Faire. Few had much interest in serious fighting, or in having to deal with pickpockets, murderers, and burglars.

In other words, they were sheep. The "bastard" wolves slaughtered them. The sheep started to quit the game, and Origin was left with a fairly clear-cut choice - bet on the wolves and leave things as they were, or bet on the sheep and build a fence to keep the wolves out.

They bet that the sheep would be more reliable and less troublesome customers. Purely from a revenue/numbers perspective, I find it difficult to dispute that judgment. The wolves were fenced off. They could still prey on each other if they wished.

Though the hardcore continue to bemoan Trammel, I submit that it kept UO relevant and profitable for many more years than it would have if Renaissance had never been released.

Actually, I'm glad you brought this up because it was something I was hoping to clarify. I really don't think it counts when you split servers into PvP and PvE. If you offer players the option, then all of the jerks will go to PvP, making the PvP server filled with a much higher percentage of asswads than normal. Even I, who you have now read bemoan this very topic, chose the PvE server in UO when the split took place. You have to keep it all together or nothing, the simple reason being that you NEED to have the good guys to balance out the bad. Reluctant heroes, if you will, that aren't playing to stomp the PKs but still, by default, stem the tide by their very presence. There are more good than evil players in the world (just check the studies done on karmic choices on SP sandbox games) by far, so you have to force both parties into the same room to have a fun system.

Althus:

ldwater:
Play EVE.

Nuff said really - plenty of bastards in that still!

That was exactly I was thinking, all the time i was reading this, and i have only played the free trial of EvE, but from what i read and saw about it this is pretty much your game there. Free to be a arse hole or a good doer.

It's not enough just to have free will. It also has to be a fun game. I'm not hating on Eve (to be fair I haven't given it too much of a chance) but its not for me. Everyone is saying Eve! Eve! Eve! in the comments, but that's akin to saying we never needed another FPS after Doom. Yeah, I get it, Eve offers many of the freedoms I'm looking for, but trust me, freedom isn't the only important factor of gameplay when I'm looking at what to spend time with.

Mike Kayatta:

You have to keep it all together or nothing, the simple reason being that you NEED to have the good guys to balance out the bad. Reluctant heroes, if you will, that aren't playing to stomp the PKs but still, by default, stem the tide by their very presence. There are more good than evil players in the world (just check the studies done on karmic choices on SP sandbox games) by far, so you have to force both parties into the same room to have a fun system.

I think that's a solid theory, but it seems to fall down in reality. The majority of rule-abiding, inoffensive players come to a game to have fun. Being a town guard isn't fun for most of them - it's work.

On AC-Darktide, the Antis were always wildly outnumbered by the PKs. The Antis tended to have a higher proportion of skilled players, but they couldn't be everywhere at once to protect n00bs from griefers and gankers.

I know you won't think it's a fully-applicable comparison, but it's the best I have. :P

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